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Fall 2006
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Online Only Article Grand Prairie, Texas, Accesses Water Meter Information with GIS

Taking Water Meter Work Order Management to Next Level

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Map showing location of City of Grand Prairie, Texas

Located in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex and encompassing an area of 81.4 square miles, the city of Grand Prairie, Texas, has a population of approximately 156,000, includes two sizable lakes, and measures 22 miles from its north to south boundaries. It was the fifth fastest-growing city in the DFW metroplex in 2005.

Due to the city's rapid growth, the Public Works/Utility Services Department averaged approximately 100 new residential meter installations per month, and it simply needed a better way of routing its field crews and of managing its existing staff and resources.

GIS Evolution

In 2003, Information Technology (IT) director Bob O' Neal, with the big picture in mind and having done his homework, set up new technology standards to facilitate enterprise GIS implementation (which included data centralization, data sharing, data standardization, connectivity to non-GIS applications, etc.). This development paved the road for the implementation of efficient GIS solutions for work order dispatching in the Water Department.

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Query created for all meter leaks with a cycle of "13."

In fall 2004, Ron McCuller, Public Works director, and Doug Cuny, Public Works Utility Services manager, realized the great benefit of accurately locating all water meters and outsourced the field inventorying. Using submeter Trimble GPS equipment, field crews located all 42,000 meters within one month. Having the GPS locations of the water meters inventoried, the IT/GIS staff generated a water-meter information layer using ArcSDE, and the GIS staff proceeded with the connections to the HTE/DB2 database, which hosted all the meter-related information, including the work order information. (HTE is the municipal integrated module software from SunGard of Wayne, Pennsylvania.) This resulted in the development of a Microsoft Windows-based, easy-to-use query builder with an extensive number of different queries, reports, and map capabilities. As of July 2006, 45 percent of the city's water meters were replaced with automated meter-reading devices.

Meanwhile, the city's IT/GIS Department had developed a user-friendly interface for city employees using ArcObjects and Visual Basic for Applications programming between HTE/DB2 and ArcSDE, facilitating access to valuable water meter information.

With the daily task of generating work order reports now easier and faster, the Utility Services Department is dispatching its field crews more efficiently, as well as saving driving time by wisely routing the work orders based on cycle location. The new integrated HTE/GIS application also enables Utility Services to better manage emergency calls, which equates to better customer service and resource management.

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Map generated from query.

Other city departments have learned of these benefits, and they are working together to achieve common goals: better efficiency, better customer service, and cost savings. Some examples of present and future usage through the city departments are

  • Code Enforcement—Unoccupied housing
  • Economic Development—Commercial, residential activity
  • Planning Department—Address verification, mass mailing notification to residents
  • Public Works—Water consumption analysis, mass mailing notification to residents
  • Public Works/Utility Billing—Delinquent meter accounts, work order reports
  • Engineering—Storm fee billing accounts, flood-warning notifications
  • Street Department—Street-closing notification mass mailings to residents
  • Police/Dispatch—Present occupant
  • Environmental—Automotive inspection program billing
  • Marketing—Welcome letter to new residents

More Information

For more information, contact Hatim Mahdi, senior GIS analyst (e-mail: hmahdi@gptx.org); Doug Cuny, Public Works Utility Services manager (e-mail: dcuny@gptx.org); or Maria Hunt, GIS manager (e-mail: mhunt@gptx.org).

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